Boaters correctly tie to a mooring buoy. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

After a couple of days cruising the Florida west coast in fantastic weather and a kindly sea I transited the Caloosahatchee River to haul-out and refit before hurricane season arrives. I always look forward to refits as I enjoy working on the boat as much as I do being underway.  I’m fond of DIY yards that don’t have any requirements to use the marina staff for anything.  Being a fulltime cruiser, I also want to live on the boat while working. Doing the work yourself leaves you in a better position later to effect repairs in an emergency.  If you did the work and it fails later down the way, you will be an expert on how to best fix it. I equally enjoy the boatyard culture, complete with sunset community meals and ad hoc music jams.  Being in the yards is a time when you can relax your self-reliant fervor a little.  

However, if you spend any time out here in Waterworld you will have a growing list of things that just piss you off.  Any lifestyle has its good and bad points and we all like to think that full-time cruising is somehow exempt, but of course it is not. I read a cartoon recently; the first frame was a couple screaming expletives at each other from the cockpit to the bow while anchoring; the next frame was the same couple sitting in the cockpit drinking wine acknowledging how great life on a boat is. There is nothing you can do when a couple like this interrupts your peace as they anchor next to you except smile, wave and say “welcome to the harbor.”  

Other events make me want to rewrite the Jimmy Buffett lyrics from “these three-day tourists are really a bore” to “these three-day tourists are really dangerous.”  Case in point: tourist with more money than seamanship fires up his mega yacht, flies past me doing 15 knots and throwing a four-foot wake in an inlet with restricted maneuverability. Or worse, the same tourist throws the same wake at boats on a dock … bump, rock and bang.  

It is a conflicting human dichotomy of wanting to have our way even when we hate that behavior being applied to us. When boaters are underway they want to be unimpeded even if it means waking docked boats. Conversely, the same boater will scream bloody murder to anyone who wakes them while they are at the dock.  

The only resolution to this type of conflict is discipline and pride in the craft of seamanship.  Thoreau taught us long ago that the “undisciplined life is not worth living.” Apply a little reasoning to this and it is an easy step to realize that undisciplined actions are an abject annoyance to everyone. Out here on the water they can also be costly and dangerous. Way before Thoreau we had a thing called the “Golden Rule” — you remember, the one that goes: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Capt’n Mike

If you would like to have the Weekly delivered to your mailbox or inbox along with our daily news blast, please subscribe here.